“Donation Mania” in 1786!


Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence who served under General George Washington as head of Army hospitals during the Revolution. He was a leading member of the medical staff of the Pennsylvania Hospital from 1783-1813 and a founder of America’s first medical school. And he was extremely generous with his time and treasure.

Dr. Rush was a pioneer in the care of mentally ill patients. He wrote a satire in 1786 entitled “On the Different Species of Manias” in the brand-new United States of America, including “Donation Mania,” which afflicted those who “impoverished their families, by extravagant contributions to public undertakings, or who neglect their relations at their death, by bequeathing their estates to hospitals, colleges, and churches.”

You can learn a lot from reading satire! Rush wrote this with tongue in cheek, but his readers must have known people in 18th century America who seemed to have “donation mania.”

God bless them!

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